(It was ten years ago today that my mother died.  She was and

 remains the most authentic person I have ever known.)

The photo is black and white.

I’m probably 7 years old, crying with a plate of over-cooked squash in front of me.

You are holding a cigarette and a mixed drink.

Thin threads of smoke exit your mouth like long strands of cotton candy.

Your hand holds the cigarette the way movie stars did back then, between index finger and middle finger, wrist slightly cocked.

This was my life.

This was your life.

This is how it was.

I thought the stage was set.

It was 1970 when the drinks and the cigarettes exited stage left,

and you appeared.

Not long after, your hair, once as red as the box it came in was cut, the lipstick on your mouth a softer shade of red and the bloat of too much drink, exited stage right

and you appeared.

5:00 a.m.  I am just 10 years old, when the screen door slams.

And you are gone.

You return one hour later, the sweat pouring off your skin, the flush of your cheeks, the radiant face of the mother I had prayed for came home.

I will never know why you ran.

Ran  for so many years from the woman  you are.

To finally run home to yourself, to me, to us.

I just know that I am grateful.

Ten years ago your body died.

Today you live here

In my daughter’s laugh, my son’s tender ways and in the quiet of this early morning.

A gentle reminder of why I run.

Why I am.

Why it all matters.